“A clear sign of the authenticity of a charism is its ecclesial nature, its capacity to be integrated harmoniously in the life of the People of God for the good of all” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 130). The faithful have the right to be advised by Pastors on the authenticity of charisms and on the reliability of those that present themselves as Founders. The discernment on the ecclesial nature and reliability of the charisms is an ecclesial responsibility of the Pastors of particular Churches. It is expressed in the thoughtful care towards all forms of consecrated life and, in particular, in the decisive task of evaluation on the suitability of the erection of new Institutes of Consecrated Life and new Societies of Apostolic Life.
It is a duty to correspond to the gifts that the Spirit arouses in a particular Church, receiving them generously with thanksgiving; to be avoided at the same time is the imprudent emergence of useless Institutes or deficient in sufficient vigor” (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree Perfectae Caritatis, 19). It belongs to the Apostolic See to accompany the Pastors in the process of discernment that leads to the ecclesial recognition of a new Institute or of a new Society of diocesan right. The Apostolic Exhortation Via Consecrata states that the vitality of new Institutes and Societies “must be examined by the authority of the Church, to which belongs the opportune examination, be it to test the authenticity of the inspiring objective, be it to avoid the excessive multiplication of institutions analogous among themselves, with the consequent risk of harmful fragmentation in too small groups” (n. 12).
Therefore, new Institutes of Consecrated Life and the new Societies of Apostolic Life must be officially recognized by the Apostolic See, to which the last judgment belongs. The act of canonical erection on the part of the Bishop alone transcends the diocesan sphere and renders it sensible in the vaster horizon of the universal Church. In fact, by its nature, every Institute of Consecrated Life or Society of Apostolic Life even if it arises in the context of a particular Church, “in as much as gift to the Church, is not an isolated or marginal reality, but belongs intimately to it, is at the heart itself of the Church as decisive element of her mission” (Letter to the Consecrated, III, 5).
I establish, in this perspective, the modification of canon 579, which is substituted by the following text:
Episcopi diocesani, in suo quisque territorio, instituta vitae consecratae formali decreto valide erigere possunt, praevia licentia Sedis Apostolicae scripto data.
As deliberated with this Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio, I order that it have firm and stable vigor, notwithstanding anything to the contrary even if worthy of special mention and that it be promulgated through publication in L’Osservatore Romano, entering into force on November 10, 2020, and, therefore, published in the official commentary of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
Given from the Lateran, the day of November 1 of the year 2020, Solemnity of All Saints, the eighth of my pontificate.
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester